Under 25 Climbing Camp!

Well, another camp has come and gone, and the girls killed it (if I do say so myself).  This past week, The Alpine Club of Canada hosted the second annual Under 25 Climbers Camp.  We had five days to turn five promising young ladies into all around mountain crushers.  Many of them only had gym experience, some of them had a rack of cams and nuts, others had never done a drop knee before, or a dyno.   It was the job of Jen Olsen and I to take them from A-Z, and back again.  Sport climbing, trad climbing, multi-pitch sport, and multi-pitch trad.  These four topics include a tremendous amount of information, from basics like clipping draws and cleaning anchors, to placing and waiting gear to building and equalizing anchors.  From a day at the crag to a day on the summit.  Pictures below.

One thing I noticed while staying at the Alpine Club’s main clubhouse, was the wall of fame, the past presidents for the last 100+ years.  One observation I made was that a surprising amount of the Clubs leaders, lived very long, very active lives, most ranging from mid 80’s to nearly 100 years old.  To me, this is incredible.  They say climbing and guiding in the mountains is hard on the body, but many of these lifers claimed 100’s of first ascents all over BC and Alberta, and they climbed hard very late into their lives.  It’s incredibly inspiring.  I feel a little bit sad when I see 40 and 50 year old tourists hanging around the Chateau of Lake Louise, asking questions about climbing and the hike, many of them telling me they “will never be able to do it”, or they say, “oh – no, I’m too old for that”.   It pains me,  they are already thinking old, and injured and in some way, are giving up.  I feel their spirit is a little lost.  So here is my question, does climbing in the mountains keep you young and strong, or is it the young at heart that are attracted to climbing mountains in the first place?   Does climbing add years to your life, or, is it because these presidents were so talented and already fit, or had strong genetic codes, that enabled them to climb for so many years and live such long vibrant lifestyles.  Personally, I like to think the rational answer is BOTH, – the moral of the story is to never give up right?

Enjoy the pictures.

Broken rock (directional) at Grassi,  this is what you get for slinging threads in the rockies. My bad.

Class is in Session.

Notice the chalk bag from Thailand. Awesome.

Ground Up, lead climbing, boo-ya.

Pocket pulling limestone.


The approach takes about an hour at the most.

And the view sucks every step of the way.

It’s obviously good fun, but expect lots of choss, wear a helmet people.

The mega corner pitch that makes the whole trip worth it.

Summit success, the girls and their loaded guns.

The ever incredible, LAC LOUISE.

Lowering from the chains, of yet another worthy 5.9 quartzite delight.

  • Elk

    Hello, I am happy to check your web-site. How strong you are!
    I saw Beth Rodden climbing the Meltdown in the video. Super difficult route, 5.14c. Do you try it?

  • Nancy

    It’s not that common to find beginning climbers at 50+; the older climbers I know, for the most part, have been doing it since they were youngsters like yourself, Sonnie. Not that the “kids” aren’t welcoming and helpful, they are, but the truth of the matter is that for older bodies, slow and steady is the way, and many younger people don’t get that. They want to “crush it,” as you say, and we like to “massage the rock” if you get my drift. Climbing is an amazing metaphor for life, and there’s no reason older folks can’t learn to climb; we just need guidance and encouragement, like anyone else!

    Maybe you should have an Over 50 Camp, Sonnie! I’d sign up for sure! 🙂

  • So is there going to be an over 25 climbing camp for us old people? 🙂

  • el Dub

    The ACC does do over 50 camps! Check out http://www.alpineclubofcanada.ca/activities/trips10/summer/55plus.html
    Course Sonnie is a few years from being allowed to participate….

  • Nancy

    Hey, El Dub!

    Sounds great! Unfortunately, I’ll be back in the classroom August 19, so this will have to wait until I retire, I guess. In the meantime, I’ll get some glacier and rope experience to qualify…I have some friends planning a trip up Ranier; maybe they’ll let me tag along! 🙂

    How about a rock climbing camp for us mid-century folks? Couldn’t Sonnie lead that? 😛 Sure, he could!

  • Julia

    Hey Sonnie! Just lookin’ at this post with fond memories of last year’s camp! Great to see so many girls hittin’ it 🙂 Glad to see you had slightly better weather than last year too!


  • Hey Sonnie,

    Awesome comments and pics!

    Thanks for all the hard work.

    Keep on, keeping-on!


  • jcobb

    Hey Sonnie,

    Great blog, great pics, even better attitude! I love it. Reminds of one of the best aphorisms from the late great Alex Lowe: “Whoever is having the most fun, wins.”

    Also, on the topic of age: I continue to marvel at the youthfulness and vigor I see when I meet people who are passionate about what they are doing in their lives, across all fields of endeavour and regardless of what stage of life they are at. It’s like they are doing something right.

    Finally, a quick little story: I was working as an amateur leader at the Trident-Neptune GMC last year and had the privilege of spending a fair bit of time with a lovely lady by the name of Margaret. At 76, she put many of us to shame with her stamina and sheer enthusiasm. She clearly wasn’t at her peak, and she knew it, but we didn’t let that stop us from having a great trip and getting to the top of a few peaks. But, one of the best moments I’ve EVER had in the mountains was belaying her on a tricky slab top-rope that she positively glided up (in far better style than many of us much younger folk.) She had the biggest smile on her face when she got down, full of nothing but enthusiasm and gratitude. I’ll never forget her smile.

  • Sonnie

    Thanks for all the comments everyone, great to hear from all of you. Elk, I’m not sure, but I know Beth is way stronger than I am for sure, Nancy, I’d be down for another climbing camp absolutely. Let me see what I can arrange, he he, I’ll keep you posted. Jcobb, so cool, I had a very similar experience with a couple lady’s in Mexico, sending everything, great smiles.